Selling your classic car? It's FREE to list your car on Honest John Classics | No thanks

Top 10: Utilitarian designs

What we’re looking at here are cars that started out in life with a deliberate poverty spec, and remained true to their roots. Cars that were designed to do a job of work, with none of the frills and fanciness that many of their competitors deemed desirable. Cars that were proud to be utilitarian.  

From the last of the ‘sit up and beg’ Fords to the first of the Minis, with various offerings from France, Italy, Japan and Germany thrown in for good measure, we reckon this is the ultimate list of brilliantly utilitarian post-World War II cars. 

Read more

10
Previous

Volkswagen Type 181

It would have been all too easy to include the Beetle here as an example of Volkswagen’s approach to utilitarian motoring. But the company’s Type 181 went at least one stage further, taking its influence from the famous Kubelwagen of World War II.

Produced between 1968 and ’83, the 181 was known in Germany as the Kurierwagen, in Britain as the Trekker and in the USA simply as The Thing. Being Beetle-based it was a robust device, with 1.5- or 1.6-litre air-cooled power and a distinct lack of creature comforts. And that’s why we love it so much.

Comments

lammascot    on 2 October 2017

The dear old Mini. It was an absolute revolution. I bought my first one on announcement day, 26 August 1959 and took delivery on 26 October. My car was no. 000415, one of the pre-production batch sent out to dealers.
I didn't see another one on the road for weeks. Everywhere I went, crowds gathered! Bus drivers looked down and chuckled. Driving it was a totally new experience. The handling was far better than nearly all other cars on the road. Even with only 848cc to pull you along, you could keep up by beating the others on corners. As one of the earliest ones on the road it suffered many problems, mostly fixed under warranty. When it rained the engine stopped as water got into the distributor, and the fuel pump motor, and water poured into the front seat wells due to poor construction of the front wheel arches. Synchromesh didn't last long and the dealer told me fixing it wouldn't cure it for long either. But the worst feature was the brakes. These drum brakes did not self-adjust, and the linings were awful. One had to stop and readjust them about every 250 miles. Eventually, a friend obtained some Ferodo competition linings for me which were a considerable improvement. We started to do well in rallies. But the wheels were not strong enough and were easily buckled. I believe that competitors at Silverstone actually had wheels fail completely.
But I loved her. I had more sheer driving fun with my Mini than any other car I've ever had, over more than 60 years, including sports cars. And she could take our family of four, including luggage and a push chair. I'd love to have driven a Mini Cooper S, but when I had mine she was Queen of the Road!

lammascot    on 2 October 2017

The dear old Mini. It was an absolute revolution. I bought my first one on announcement day, 26 August 1959 and took delivery on 26 October. My car was no. 000415, one of the pre-production batch sent out to dealers.
I didn't see another one on the road for weeks. Everywhere I went, crowds gathered! Bus drivers looked down and chuckled. Driving it was a totally new experience. The handling was far better than nearly all other cars on the road. Even with only 848cc to pull you along, you could keep up by beating the others on corners. As one of the earliest ones on the road it suffered many problems, mostly fixed under warranty. When it rained the engine stopped as water got into the distributor, and the fuel pump motor, and water poured into the front seat wells due to poor construction of the front wheel arches. Synchromesh didn't last long and the dealer told me fixing it wouldn't cure it for long either. But the worst feature was the brakes. These drum brakes did not self-adjust, and the linings were awful. One had to stop and readjust them about every 250 miles. Eventually, a friend obtained some Ferodo competition linings for me which were a considerable improvement. We started to do well in rallies. But the wheels were not strong enough and were easily buckled. I believe that competitors at Silverstone actually had wheels fail completely.
But I loved her. I had more sheer driving fun with my Mini than any other car I've ever had, over more than 60 years, including sports cars. And she could take our family of four, including luggage and a push chair. I'd love to have driven a Mini Cooper S, but when I had mine she was Queen of the Road!

soldierboy000    on 2 October 2017

Their is a teriffic echo in here.

WilliamRead    on 2 October 2017

No VW.... the eponymous Peoples' Car.

Add a comment

 

Ask Honest John